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Diversity of Enterichthyes

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A sample of the diversity of the class Enterichthyes, the "fish" of Horus.

- Silverdart (Argyrops examinans), a tiny swarming herring-like gutfish;
- Reef prowler (Trachelichthys luxori), a long eel-like predator of the actinozoan reefs;
- Frilled thornfish (Echinocephalus superbus), a curiously ornated spiny grazer;
- Moundfish (Bradynectes maximus), a heavy flat-bodied bottom feeder;
- Vitreous stalkfish (Staurichthys anhelans), a filter-feeder attached to the seafloor.

«The silverdart (Argyrops examinans) is a rather common gutfish often seen following the oceanic currents in huge shoals, numbering millions; while rarely longer than a couple inches, the entire shoal can be several hundreds of feet across. Given such numbers, even the most ravenous predators, be they shark-like torpedo gutfish or piscivorous diplopterygians, can consume but a negligible fraction of it. The individual silverdart is also protected by stiff anterior fins ending in a quill, but this is hardly a determent for the largest hunters. Their sides are lined with reflective scales that produce an iridescent flicker when seen from below, similar to the light of Ra glimmering on the waves.
[...]
The reef prowler (Trachelichthys luxori) is a serpentine predator inhabiting the actinozoan reefs of the Sea of Luxor. It's a member of the subclass Pleurognathia, where the jaws developed from the lateral palps of the anterior cross, while the upper and the lower palps reduced into chemiosensitive flaps of skin. Its long (tipically six feet, often up to ten), sleek limbless body allows it to move without effort in the gaps of the reef, tasting the water with the sensitive flaps; upon finding a prey, the reef prowler crushes it between the powerful jaws.
[...]
The frill thornfish (Echinocephalus superbus) is a most unusual inhabitant of the actinozoan reefs; while often coexisting with the reef prowler, it defends itself with a phenomenal array of thorns, spikes and quills. Its defenses stand out better thanks to a vivid green coloration, easily recognisable on the red background of the oceanic erythrophytes. The fins are all lateral, and are used to swim with slow beats; thorny and branched, they wouldn't even be visible on the side if they weren't tinged with a bright yellow. Like all the thornfish, it's a peaceful grazer, armed with a sharp beak to cut through the fibrous plant matter.
[...]
Suspected to be an aberrant relative of the thornfish, the moundfish (Bradynectes maximus), only known member of its family, is among the largest enterichthyes ever discovered. More than a ton heavy, over six feet across, it could be mistaken for a mound of detritus covered in seaweed and other sessile organisms; only when it starts to move, slowly pushing water backwards with the small fins, or to feed, by scooping mud into the strong-toothed mouth with the fleshy palps, its nature becomes clear. This cryptic bottom feeder lives on various shelled invertebrates and carrions, from which it takes enough energy to survive, but not to move for more than a few feet per day.
[...]
The versatility of the palp crosses is perfectly established by the members of the obscure subclass Staurichthyia, such as the beautiful vitreous stalkfish (Staurichthys anhelans). In these creatures, the posterior palps became a strong foot that anchors to the seafloor, while the rest of the body, through a long tail, sways in the current, occasionally catching an unlucky crabfish with the four slender tentacles and pulling it in the wide mouth. The eggs, containing a foul-tasting chemical, double as a defense: when spawning, this hermaphroditic enterichthyian bends over and covers itself with bands or strings of eggs.»
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Tarturus's avatar
Those are some interesting looking "fish". I particularly like how one of them has evolved to be attached to the seafloor.